Over 100 academic experts and stakeholders in special needs education from more than 12 African countries are meeting in Kigali to discuss partnership strategies aimed at enhancing inclusive education and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.
The 14th East African Institutional Linkage (EAIL) conference on special needs, inclusive education and rehabilitation is a regional consortium that brings together resources, programmes and initiatives related to education of vulnerable and disadvantaged learners of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking at the opening of the five-day conference, on Monday, the Vice-Chancellor for the University of Rwanda, James McWha, said government is committed to make education accessible to all Rwandan citizens.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that all children achieve 12 years of free basic education,” he said.
He said government, in partnership with Unicef, in 2007 developed child-friendly school programmes and strategies that have since enabled girls and children with disabilities access education.
“Centres for children with disabilities and related educational needs increased from five in 2005 to 80 today,” McWha said.
Evariste Karangwa, the chairperson of the task force on the development of schools for inclusive education, said there are many schools trying to respond to the needs of children with disabilities in the country.
“Local authorities are trying to make parents understand the situation of their children and support them,” he added.
Karangwa further said the College of Education is mandated to develop a school of inclusive and special needs education to respond to the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
“Our role as a teacher training institution is to create a school of inclusive education within the College of Education to train teachers at TTC (Teacher training centres), college of education, secondary level, and nine-year basic education to work in special schools or education centres with children with disabilities,” he said.
The College of Education, through its continuous professional education programme, trains teachers on inclusive and special needs education.
Each year they produce over 1,500 teachers with basic knowledge on the subject.
Vincent Murenzi, the project manager for inclusive education at Hand Cap Rwanda, said more needs to be done to empower persons with disabilities.
Murenzi said persons with disabilities sometimes lack confidence and this compromises their independence.
The 14th EAIL conference is hosted by University of Rwanda’s College of Education and has attracted participants from Burundi, China, Cameroon, Kenya, Germany, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, South Sudan, South Africa, Zambia, Madagascar, and Rwanda.
Story by The New Times uploaded by Jean Baptiste Micomyiza